The little engine roared as I hit the accelerator on my Prius to pull us up the hill to Bully Hill Vineyards (click here). It was over 100 years ago that Walter S. Taylor’s grandfather started the Taylor Wine Company right here on the side of this hill. Imagine 100 years ago; there were no cars or trucks to pull you up this hill. You either walked or rode a horse. And what about tractors to pull the wagon loads of grapes to the crusher? No, only horse drawn wagons and carts. The Taylor Wine Company moved to Pleasant Valley which is roughly at the level of Keuka Lake, just to the south of the village of Hammondsport. In 1977, the Taylor Wine Company was bought out by Coca-Cola. He and his father left the Taylor Wine Company and repurchased the old vineyards up on the side of the hill where his grandfather originally started the Taylor Wine Company.
But soon Walter S. Taylor was hit by an injunction which prevented him from using his name “Taylor” on anything related to Bully Hill Vineyards and his winery. He was literally crushed by this injunction but he knew that he couldn’t win against the might of the Coca-Cola Company. He disappeared to the barn for several days and suddenly his family heard him screaming out in the barn: “That’s it, that’s it! They (got my name) but they didn’t get my goat!” And he started all over again with a new sequence of wine labels starting with “Goat White Wine”.
I can see why Walter S. Taylor loved to roam these hills with his sketch pad and paint brushes in a sack slung over his shoulder. And why the colors of his paintings are so bold and vivid. Just look around at what he saw. And you can also understand why he fought to keep his family name and his business together: he loved this hill side and the knowledge that he gained from four generations of wine making ancestors.
But beside all of that, I think it was the steepness of this hill that gave him his strength and strong resolve to not give up when a little adversity comes your way. You see, these hills were meant to be climbed!